What is an adblocker? How does ad blocking work and how to beat ad blockers

What is an adblocker? How does ad blocking work and how to beat ad blockers

What is an adblocker? Ad blocking refers to the process of using software or tools to prevent advertisements from being displayed on websites, mobile apps, or other digital platforms. Ad blocking tools work by identifying and blocking the scripts, codes, or content associated with online advertisements.

Ad blocking has become popular due to several reasons. Some people find online ads intrusive, disruptive, or distracting while browsing the web. Others may be concerned about privacy and security issues associated with online advertising, such as tracking user behavior or collecting personal information. Additionally, ad blocking can help improve website loading times and reduce data usage, particularly on mobile devices.

Ad blocking software typically works by filtering out ad content based on predefined rules or by using lists of known ad servers, domains, or specific ad types. These tools can be browser extensions, standalone applications, or built-in features within web browsers. When a web page is loaded, the ad blocking software intercepts the requests for advertisements and prevents them from being displayed.

It’s important to note that while ad blocking can enhance the browsing experience for users, it can also have implications for content creators and website owners who rely on advertising revenue to support their services. Many websites depend on ad revenue to provide free content or services, and ad blocking can affect their ability to generate income. Some websites may implement measures to detect and restrict access to users who have ad blockers enabled.

Then, what is an adblocker used for? Overall, using ad blocking is a personal choice that users make to modify their browsing experience by suppressing online advertisements.

Also, although it can indeed enhance the end user’s browsing experience in some cases, this is not always true: Some ad blockers can disable crucial site functionalities that are designed to provide a good user experience. Because they won’t replace the blocked ad content, the site will show missing parts to the end user, or even display error messages. In some cases, the ad block may block DMCA copyright control, cookie policies, and even missing CTAs, and interfere with order tracking.

In which countries is ad blocking popular?

Ad blocking is popular in various countries around the world. While it is challenging to provide an exhaustive list, here are some of the main countries where ad blocking has gained significant popularity based on available data and studies:

  1. Germany: Germany is known to have a high ad blocking adoption rate. A study by Statista in 2020 indicated that around 32% of internet users in Germany were using ad blockers.
  2. Greece: According to a report by GlobalWebIndex in 2020, Greece had the highest ad blocking usage globally, with approximately 51% of internet users employing ad blockers.
  3. Poland: Poland has also shown a considerable inclination towards ad blocking. The Statista study mentioned earlier reported that around 29% of internet users in Poland utilized ad blockers in 2020.
  4. Sweden: Sweden has a notable ad blocking culture. According to a report by Blockthrough in 2021, approximately 37% of internet users in Sweden were using ad blockers.
  5. United States: Ad blocking is reasonably popular in the United States as well. A study by eMarketer in 2021 estimated that around 27% of internet users in the U.S. would be using ad blockers.

Is ad blocking more popular on desktop or mobile devices?

Ad blocking is more popular on desktop devices compared to mobile devices. However, the adoption of ad blockers on mobile devices has been increasing in recent years.

Traditionally, ad blocking software and browser extensions were more commonly used on desktop computers. Users would install ad blockers on their web browsers to block ads while browsing websites on their desktop or laptop devices.

On the other hand, ad blocking on mobile devices has faced some challenges due to the different nature of mobile platforms and the restrictions imposed by mobile operating systems. Mobile ad blocking initially had limited availability and required users to have rooted or jailbroken devices, which deterred widespread adoption.

However, the landscape has been changing. Today, there are several ad blocking apps and browsers available for mobile devices, both for Android and iOS platforms. These apps and browsers provide users with the option to block ads while browsing websites or using mobile apps.

The growing prevalence of mobile ad blocking apps and browsers, along with increasing user awareness of privacy and data consumption concerns on mobile devices, has contributed to the rise in mobile ad blocking usage.

Although desktop ad blocking still remains more prevalent overall, mobile ad blocking continues to gain traction and is becoming increasingly popular as users seek to enhance their mobile browsing experience and mitigate privacy concerns.

What is the most popular ad blocking software?

How does ad blocking work and what are the most popular programs? There are several popular ad blocking software and tools available that users can choose from. Here are some of the most well-known ad blocking options:

  1. AdBlock Plus is a widely used ad blocking extension available for various web browsers. It is known for its customizable features, allowing users to selectively block ads, whitelist specific websites, and configure additional filter lists.
  2. uBlock Origin is another popular open-source ad blocking extension for web browsers. It offers efficient ad blocking, easy-to-use interface, and customizable filter lists. uBlock Origin is known for its low memory usage and faster performance.
  3. AdGuard is a comprehensive ad blocking software available for multiple platforms, including Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. It not only blocks ads but also provides additional features like malware protection, phishing protection, and privacy protection.
  4. Brave Browser is a privacy-focused web browser that incorporates built-in ad blocking and tracking protection. It blocks ads by default, aiming to provide a faster and more secure browsing experience while also offering users the option to support content creators through its Brave Rewards program.
  5. Privacy Badger is an extension developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) that focuses on blocking third-party tracking and surveillance. It identifies and blocks trackers, including some types of advertisements, to enhance user privacy.
  6. Ghostery is an extension that focuses on privacy and blocking trackers. It provides users with control over the trackers and scripts that run on websites, which can also include blocking certain types of ads.

It’s important to note that ad blocking software may have different features, performance levels, and compatibility with various browsers and devices.

Is ad blocking software free to end users?

Yes, ad blocking software is generally available for free to end users. Many popular ad blocking extensions and tools, such as AdBlock Plus, uBlock Origin, and Privacy Badger, are provided as free downloads or browser extensions at no cost.

These free ad blocking solutions are often developed and maintained by open-source communities or organizations that rely on user donations or other means of support to cover their development and maintenance expenses.

However, it’s worth mentioning that some ad blocking software may offer additional premium features or versions for a fee. These premium versions might provide extra functionalities, advanced customization options, or dedicated support. But the core ad blocking functionality is typically available for free. Users can choose whether to use the free version of an ad blocking software or opt for a premium version based on their specific needs and preferences.

How much revenue do advertisers lose because end users have installed blocking software?

Now we know what an adblocker is, how does ad blocking work, popular ad blocker software, and countries and devices where they are most used. However, perhaps the most important question is how much revenue do advertisers lose because of it? Estimating the exact amount of revenue lost by advertisers due to ad blocking software is challenging, as it depends on various factors such as the number of users employing ad blockers, their geographic distribution, the types of websites affected, and the specific advertising models used.

However, several studies and reports have attempted to provide estimates of the potential revenue impact. Here are a few examples:

  1. PageFair and Adobe estimated in their 2020 Ad Blocking Report that the global loss of ad revenue due to ad blocking reached $35 billion in 2020.
  2. A study conducted by eMarketer in 2021 estimated that ad blocking usage in the United States alone resulted in a loss of $12.12 billion in digital ad revenues for that year.
  3. The Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte conducted a study in the UK in 2016 and found that ad blocking usage caused a revenue loss of around £2.9 billion ($3.8 billion) for publishers in the UK.

It’s important to note that these estimates provide a broad understanding of the potential impact, and the actual revenue loss can vary depending on the specific context and methodology used in each study.

Additionally, it’s worth considering that the impact of ad blocking software on revenue can vary across different advertising models. For example, display ads might be more affected compared to native advertising, sponsored content, or other forms of advertising that are less reliant on traditional ad formats.

Overall, while ad blocking software can impact advertisers’ revenue, it’s important to remember that it is a complex and evolving issue with various factors at play. Advertisers and publishers often employ strategies to mitigate the impact of ad blockers, such as implementing non-intrusive ad formats, creating sponsored content, or exploring alternative revenue streams.

Advertisers! Here’s how to beat adblockers:

As an online trader or brand relying on digital advertising to get your products or services known and purchased, you may be wondering how to beat adblockers and what methods are out there. From ExoClick we bring you 3 tips to find out whether your domains are currently being blocked and understand how to beat ad blocker software, so that you can take action to circumvent the consequences:

Tip! Track Adblock users through Google Analytics 4: Use Google Analytics to track how many users that are visiting your site have Adblock enabled by setting up a custom tracking event. This will help you get an idea of how much traffic you could be monetizing through ExoClick’s Adblock solution. Note that we are referring to the Google Analytics 4 version, since Universal Analytics will be discontinued in July 2023. Read more about how to use Google Analytics to track Adblock users in our Documentation.

Tip! Keep your landing’s domains adblock free: There are two primary methods that advertisers can employ to circumvent ad blockers and promote their websites. The first method involves utilizing EasyList, a community-based project that maintains a popular ad blocking filter and domain list. If your domain appears on this list, it is recommended to rotate your campaign variations to ensure that adblock traffic can still access your website and utilize its features. BlockAdblock is another tool that can be used to monitor whether your site is being added to EasyList. This user-friendly tool allows you to input your landing’s URL and identify emerging threats. It also has a ‘Block mode’ feature that restricts ad blocker users from accessing your site until they whitelist it.

Tip! Track Conversions with Server-to-Server: Another option is to track conversions from adblocker traffic by using Server-to-Server tracking. This method allows the tracking of conversions through a direct server notification, making it impossible for ad blockers to interfere. Server-to-Server tracking can help identify profitable traffic and overcome the limitations of ad blockers, although it’s important to note that retargeting is not possible with this method as it doesn’t generate the necessary cookies.

Closely working with publishers? Here is what they can do with ExoClick’s Adblock monetization tool:

ExoClick’s Adblock Traffic Monetization tool presents a definitive solution for overcoming ad blockers on various types of ad formats like Banners, Sticky Banners, Native, and Instant Message. Its versatile script is compatible with different ad blockers and can function seamlessly across all browsers, platforms, and devices with effortless integration. By implementing both the Popunder Code and Adblock solution, publishers can recover traffic from blocked Popunders as well as other ad formats. While Inline Popunders require a single code, additional configuration files need to be used for Banners and Native Publishers. If you want more information on this tool, check out this blogpost.


As you can see, ad blockers have experienced and are still experiencing a high rise in popularity across the globe. There are a number of tools available to bypass their effects for advertisers, to then recover lost adblock revenues. Do you want more information on what is an adblocker, or how to beat ad blockers, making sure that your ads are shown to your audiences, throughout all devices? Talk to your account manager or a Customer Success Manager here.

Giles Hirst